On Saturday, which was Shakespeare Saturday, I had plans for pizza and Star Wars with Chloe in the afternoon, so I couldn’t go to any bookshops for Events. But in the morning, I had no plans, so my mum asked me to go and buy some bread for lunch. We have a few supermarkets near us, and they’re all very quick to get to by car, but I thought a walk would do me good, so I set off across the park to Tescos. When I stopped at one point to watch the swallows, a woman asked me about my bag, so I told her all about Books Are My Bag and Shakespeare Saturday. Then I put it down to take a photo and this goose was very very interested indeed.
I regretted going outside almost immediately, because I’d only been out the house ten minutes when it started to rain. But once that stopped, and the sun came out, I had a lovely time. Rather than the usual open green space, my local park is a country park, reclaimed from a disused sewage farm, and is mostly open grassland and wetland, and it’s a perfect place to spot wildlife. Despite being in the more built-up end of Croydon, we have pheasants, kestrels, all sorts of ducks, woodpeckers, and, as I discovered on Saturday, at least one blackcap, and a whitethroat – I was very excited about these as I hadn’t knowingly seen either of them before. A bit more research shows just how many bird species have been recorded there, which, for a bird nerd like me, is pretty damn exciting.
I’ve loved birds for as long as I can remember. I used to keep quiet about it, but one of the real benefits of only maintaining friendships with people who are not Total Shits is that I don’t have to worry about being judged for being a nerd. When I was 12, my whole family hung around on the side of a road in Wales with some old men until we saw the osprey they were watching. Seeing a dipper in Scotland, an eagle in the Alps, gannets from a ferry, hearing my first ever cuckoo while visiting family in Brittany, rescuing a robin from a cat’s mouth, an owl swooping over me in the fog in the Peak District, listening for pheasants, swallows skimming over water, watching a pair of goldcrests in my auntie’s garden on Christmas Day, feeding the sparrows in our back garden, they all bring me so much pleasure. There’s something incredibly special, so wholesome and exciting, about seeing birds that I can’t really compare to anything else. I love it.
I’ve got quite a few bird identification books, but my two favourites are these:
Between the two of them, with maps, different descriptions, drawings and photographs, it’s easy to get a good identification of almost any British bird, given a decent sighting and a little bit of time.
It took me, in the end, over an hour and a half to walk the two mile round trip to Tescos. It was the first time in ages that I properly engaged with birds in my local park, but I’ve resolved to get out there more and see what I can see, and I’m excited about it.
What are your favourite birds, or favourite bird memories?